First College Hour event hosted on Lawn

Initiative created to foster student, faculty interaction, showcase research

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Many of the students who attended the event reacted enthusiastically to this initiative and said they wished the Lawn rooms were open to students more often.

Juliana Radovanovich | Cavalier Daily

The College Council held its first College Hour in the solarium of the Colonnade Club Tuesday morning to open the Lawn to students and increase student and faculty interaction.

Henry Reynolds, a fourth-year College student and president of College Council, said the event was fairly informal, as students chatted with faculty members over coffee and tea.

“It’s just a time for students and faculty to mingle and for people to see the Lawn,” Reynolds said. “It’s sort of a dreary day today, so it’s a nice way to kick off the week.”

Tuesday morning’s event was the first of many College Hours, which will take place at the beginning of each week for the remainder of the spring semester. Associate Dean of Students Aaron Laushway serves as the faculty sponsor for College Hours.

"This is a student-driven initiative that enhances the interaction among our students and the faculty," Laushway said in an email statement. "It is very Jeffersonian and promises to be very successful, especially in the ambiance of Pavilion VII."

Reynolds also said the goal of opening the Lawn and the pavilions to students fits with the Jeffersonian vision of the Lawn as an Academical Village where students and professors could interact.

“[The Lawn] can be seen as a somewhat exclusive space through its prestige or history,” Reynolds said. “Trying to make sure that this is a welcoming space is a goal of this event.”

Many of the students who attended the event reacted enthusiastically to this initiative and said they wished the Lawn rooms were open to students more often.

“I really loved the opportunity to come into the Colonnade Club and brighten my morning,” fourth-year Commerce student Will McComb said.

Furthermore, the goal of increasing faculty-student interaction is another important aspect of the Jeffersonian vision of the purpose of the Lawn. This also complements College Council’s existing Take Your Professor to Lunch program.

“Faculty student interaction will hopefully lead to better faculty relationships, more as an advisor or mentor,” Reynolds said. “It would encourage students to get lunch or dinner with a faculty member.”

Faculty members, including College Council’s Dean Advisor Sarah Cole, said they are also enthusiastic about College Hour and its ability to bring students and faculty together.

“As the College Council's Dean Advisor and as a faculty member … I'm delighted to see this promising initiative to bring students, faculty and other community members together for informal conversation on the Lawn,” Cole said in an email statement. “I hope College Hour will turn into a new tradition.”

Additionally, College Council announced the expansion of the Take Your Professor to Lunch program, now offering the opportunity for students to have a free meal with their graduate teaching assistant to further foster advising and mentorship.

At future College Hours, there will be presentations of research projects funded by College Council through grants. Reynolds said this will present an opportunity to showcase research in a way that benefits the community as a whole.

The name of the event was inspired by the discovery of a similar College Hour held many decades ago on the Lawn, Reynolds said. In the past, it was “a time for students and faculty to congregate, share research and interact outside the classroom,” according to an email from College Council.

“It’s a somewhat informal event; it’s not trying to aim for some sort of lofty goal,” Reynolds said. “But I think that it can lead to a lot of great things.”

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